Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

20 January 1998

7:00 p.m.




The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman James Squires.


Members Present: Councilman Robert Wilson, Tom Schecker, Barbara

Ewing, Chairman James Squires, David Okum, David

Whitaker and Councilwoman Kathy McNear

Others Present: Bill McErlane, Building Official


Mr. Wilson moved for adoption and Mrs. McNear seconded the motion. By voice vote all voted aye and the Minutes were adopted with seven affirmative votes.


    1. Minutes of Planning Commission Meeting Ė 9 December 1997
    2. Listing of Board of Zoning Appeals Officers and Members


    1. Report on Council Activities Ė Kathy McNear- no report
    2. Report on Planning Commission Ė David Okum

Amendment to preliminary plan for Tri-County Commons PUD to allow construction of proposed MARS Music Store adjacent to Dave & Busterís. Issues involved signage. Their request was 606 s.f. versus 550 which our planner recommended. The sign package had two options: one they preferred would require 606 square feet.. They stated that it came in two sizes and if they went to the next size down, they would be at 437 square feet. The Dave & Busterís signage on their building is 324 square feet. There was discussion on cornicing similar to what Dave & Busterís and Roberds did, and discussion concerning the neon lighting they had added to the building. This received a 4-3 vote, which is a negative recommendation and will require five votes from Council in order for it to be passed. The applicant did not show any flexibility in the signage.

Development plan for addition to Romanoís Macaroni Grill, 925 East Kemper Road. They are adding 36 seats to the restaurant Ė approved 7-0

Development Plan Approval for Proposed 3-story office building Executive Plaza III 135 Merchant Street (in front of the GE Tech Center Building). We discussed relocation of the chiller unit to be set down into the hillside. This requires two variances and is before us this evening.

We had Pine Garden Record Plat approval; eight plats have been approved so 12 units have been approved with four remaining.

Development plan for addition to Enterprise Rent-A-Car, next to Recker & Boerger. It was not complete and was tabled.

Vineyard Community Church Building development plan approval which is before us this evening for a variance.

We discussed proposed revision to the Thoroughfare Plan and Mr. Shvegzda will develop drawings to bring it up to date and this will be discussed in the February meeting.


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All testimony given in cases pending before this board are to be made part of the public record. As such, each citizen testifying before this board is directed to take his place at the podium, state his name address and the nature of the variance and be advised that all testimony and discussion relative to said variance is recorded. It is from this recording that we make our minutes.

    1. A variance once granted will be referred back to the Board of Zoning Appeals if after the expiration of six months no construction is done in accordance with the terms and conditions of the variance.

If a variance appeal is denied, the applicant may resubmit the appeal six months after the denial.

  1. OLD BUSINESS Ė none

A. Provident Bank , 11525 Springfield Pike requests variance to allow white light poles & fixtures instead of brown and black. Said variance is requested from Section 153.193C (7)(b) "..All light poles & light fixtures shall be dark in color."

Scott Grimes of LSI Lighting Systems said we would like to put up a white pole in the parking lot as opposed to the dark that is required. The Provident Bank is doing a total reimaging program, new graphics signs and colors. They are tying the fixtures into the color schemes of the building. They picked lighter colors to help reflect lights and make customers feel safer at nights as they go to the ATM machines. Mr. Grimes showed the fixture, white in color with a blue band.

Mr. Okum commented I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of this in other developments. This is very sensitive because it is in the Route 4 Corridor District and the intent was to have earthtones, and white would not qualify. Looking at the book, buff or platinum would be closer, but I donít think that is what Providentís colors are.

Mr. Wilson said you indicated they will do a revamping. Does that limply that the building will be painted white as well? Mr. Grimes said the building is stained; right now they are adding blue and red stripes. Mr. Wilson continued I agree; white is not an earthtone color and would not be acceptable according to the Route 4 Corridor Study. I would not feel comfortable with that. We donít want to set precedents that we will later regret. This defeats the purpose of having the Corridor Study.

Mr. Grimes wondered what color would be acceptable; you said possibly platinum. Mr. Wilson answered it is a lot more acceptable than the white, but we are not trying to dictate the color.

Mr. Schecker wondered how these lights are different from the existing ones. Mr. Grimes said the poles are currently there; it is a variance to keep them up or take them down. They didnít know that color was an issue. Mr. Okum wondered how long they had been up, and Mr. Grimes answered three weeks; the building inspector said it was okay to leave them until the variance hearing.

Mrs. McNear said I sympathize with the plight, but we have the Corridor Study and we have been hammering everybody on the corridor to maintain the colors required. If we do this now, we are heading down the wrong path. We canít say yes to this and make everybody else live by the rules so I wouldnít be in favor of doing this.


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Mr. Wilson said you are caught in the middle. The individuals who had these poles put up should have known. When they moved from the old Provident building down to this one, they knew about earthtones. We are not upset with you but what we are saying is we are not in favor of this and Provident knew.

Mr. McErlane said to give you some history on the property, the building was built at the time we were considering the corridor standards. A lot of the architecture was directed by the City because the City owned the property at the time. The City directed it towards the corridor standards that were being designed. In defense of Provident Bank, typically light pole colors are not something that they would normally pick up on.

As far as the sequence of events, we had noticed that the light fixtures were placed on the site. Obviously we didnít want Provident to do without light fixtures so we told them to leave them in place until the Board could hear their request.

Mr. Schecker said one of the comments for the justification of this variance was increased customer safety. I would hardly think that the colored light pole would reflect that much. Mr. Grimes said light reflects off any surface and any lighter surface will reflect more light.

Addressing Mr. McErlane, Mr. Whitaker asked if this variance is for light pole fixtures only or is it also the fixtures on the building? Mr. McErlane reported it says all light poles and light fixtures.

Mr. Okum commented in itself the metallic striping around the light is also something identified in the Corridor Study, but I do not think it is substantial enough to make any difference. I am sorry this has happened, but if we did allow a change to the Corridor Study in the corridor area, we would be establishing a precedent that could bring us to brown or green or red poles, so I will be voting in opposition to it.

Mrs. McNear moved to grant the variance and Mr. Schecker seconded the motion. No one voted aye, and Mrs. McNear, Mr. Schecker, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Whitaker, Mr. Okum, Mrs. Ewing and Mr. Squires voted no. Variance was denied with seven votes.

Mr. Grimes wondered what color might be acceptable. Mr. Squires responded it says all light poles and light fixtures shall be dark in color; that is what we have to go by.

B. Quality Gold, 75 Tri-County Parkway requests extension of Variance 33-1997 granted September 16 1997 to allow a temporary office trailer on their premises. Said variance is requested from Section 153.083© "No main or accessory use shall be permitted in a trailerÖ"

Michael Langhammer, one of the owners of Quality Gold stated in the middle of September I asked to have an office trailer put on my property. Things havenít gone as well as we had hoped with the construction of our new facility and I am here to ask for an extension.

The variance was for four months, to January 15th. Because of all the logistics and problems associated with it, the trailer was not delivered to our property until October 15th, so even though the variance was for four months, the trailer has only been there for three months.

We have had problems with the new construction. The date I have been told we will be complete is April 1st.



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Mr. Squires asked him if two and one-half months will meet your needs. Mr. Langhammer answered I am cutting it very close, but I can live with that. Three months would be perfect, but two and one-half sounds better than three months. At the moment we are about half under roof. I believe April 1st or April 15th is very realistic.

Mr. Okum asked how many people are occupying the trailer. Mr. Langhammer answered 13-14 people at any one time. They are working in a cubicle and are taking phone calls from the customers.

Mr. Okum said I drove by your trailer and it is most ugly just setting there. We have another applicant this evening that put a trailer on their site and their restrictions were a lot more intense in terms of landscaping around it. Quite frankly, your trailer sets right out there.

Mr. Langhammer said I have no landscaping around it, but I am not opposed to bringing mulch and lattice in and evergreen or bushes to do that. That expense is minimal versus the expense of dismantling and trying to accommodate all my employees inside our facility. I am not opposed to that at all.

Mr. Wilson said I am a business person and I read the letter and visited the site. I agree that it is unsightly. In the insurance business we require skirting around trailers, landscaping to make it look like a small building rather than a trailer. That would help and might entice a few of us to give you a little bit of an extension. I have a problem with your letter in that you indicated that two and one half months is not a practical option and that as a company you have made commitments to your new employees and must honor those commitments. Mr. Langhammer said what I meant is we have never laid any employees off. I do not have the physical space inside my building. If we were to have to remove the trailer, I would be forced to bring those people in. I would not lay them off; I just donít know practically how I would accommodate those people. We would be forced to do that but Iím not sure how to physically bring those people in. I have some people in my office and in the trailer taking orders. I have to be connected to the computer and the phones. The computer is the cheaper option. Phones are much more expensive. It is an astronomical cost; phone system alone was $15-20,000. Computerization could be done for $10, 000. At this point I could not afford to do that. I would have to bring those people inside my building if you denied me.

The skirting is not a problem; within a week I could have the skirting and the landscaping and the mulch in place. That is a $2,500 option that I would do, and would prefer to do.

Mr. Wilson said I can appreciate what you have said; this is a burden. Maybe with landscaping and skirting we can come with some type of mid term. I feel uncomfortable about two and one-half months; however, it may take that long if construction is as it is. If we go with five weeks instead of 10 weeks and it is not done, youíll be back with the same problem.

Mr. Langhammer responded I donít know if this is proper, but if you were to grant the two and one-half or three month extension and give me two weeks to get the skirting and landscaping in and if I were to fail, I would voluntarily pay a penalty, not to mention lose the variance. That is how confident I am that I will get it done. I will put it in writing.

Mr. Wilson said we as a board cannot put a figure on this. We would have to go through our law director, but I appreciate what you are saying. Mr. Langhammer said Iíll put it in writing and you can do whatever you wish with it. I can report to the Building Department in one or two weeks and tell them that it is done


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Mrs. McNear said I think you said in September that the reason you needed that space was to hold your employees for the holiday rush. Mr. Langhammer said I did and in September I had 25 employees; I now have 41 employees. Since about September my business has grown; December alone was up 25%. Last year I added 4,000 customers and 2500 came since September. I presently have 15,000 customers across the country. I export on a small basis to three different countries. Most of my business is done in the U.S. Space is an issue. I thought I would have a new building in time and that I would be able to pull a few people back in and space would not be a problem. I never believed that I would have hired an additional 15 people. I need those people to operate my business.

Mrs. McNear continued when you came in the first time I voted no because I just knew it wasnít going to be done in four months. Also there is another applicant here this evening that had requested a trailer a year ago; I also voted no on that one.. It is inappropriate; it is unsightly and I doubt if you will be finished by April 1st. I voted no the last time and I will be voting no this time.

Mr. Schecker wondered how far along they are in terms of construction. Mr. Langhammer answered we are just about under roof; we will begin framing. We have no manufacturing needs or special equipment. It is straight offices and big open rooms for our customer service bay. February 1st we begin framing and 60 days from then is very realistic. If I miss it by 15 or 20 days it is my problem. I would have the trailer removed and pay 5-10 people to do nothing for two weeks. It is not a problem if I can get to the April 1st date. If it is granted it is the last time I will be coming before the Board because my welcome has been worn out.

Mr. Okum asked the square footage in his current building, and Mr. Langhammer answered 4400 square feet. Mr. Okum asked the square footage in the trailer and he answered 720 square feet. Mr. Okum commented in 4400 square feet you have 28 employees and you are putting 14 employees in 720 square feet. Mr. Langhammer responded inside that building has four offices with seven people in them. There is a large room where people receive and order merchandise and returns. The second part of the day it is used for shipping and there are 300 square feet in the back which is a 10 x 30 foot expanse where we have a walk in vault and I have two people who operate in that. Outside that I have people who handle merchandise and there is one more office, a kitchen and three bathrooms and an area off the front which is a showroom and we have files in it. It is not one open space where the trailer is. Everybody has four or five foot cubicles; there is one restroom. It is more functional space. Before we started building we looked at adding on to the existing building; there are 1.19 acres there, but a good portion of it is in retention basins.

Mr. Okum said you offered to take care of landscaping the view of the trailer. Your adjacent property owners look down upon your site. You have agreed if you were to be allowed to leave the trailer there, you would undertake a landscaping plan and take care of screening and skirting the trailer. Mr. Langhammer responded because I have neighbors all over, Iíll skirt all the way around and weíll bring mulch all the way around and plants. Mr. Okum stated our typical screening is 10 foot evergreens. Since you canít plant right now, I would suggest you put in mulch beds. That would give you the opportunity to take those trees and put them at your new site.

Mr. Langhammer said they probably would go to the new site. I have three acres of land and requirements for trees. I would do that, and when the trailer goes, the trees would go.


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Mr. Okum said so if we were making a motion, it would be based on your willingness to adequately screen it with the necessary number of evergreens so it is not noticeable from Tri-County Parkway. Mr. Langhammer asked if he needed to put everything in the front or some in the back as well. Mr. McErlane said the grade level is higher in the back. There is a grassed area before you get to the parking field. Mr. Langhammer said the back is within six feet of our dumpster enclosure that partially hides the back of the trailer. Mr. Okum said to your left is Leugers which is empty and to the right is the new GTE building and you canít see it from there.

Mr. Wilson wondered if the facility had any manufacturing or assembly responsibilities. Mr. Langhammer answered no, we sell by catalog, take orders and ship.

Mr. Wilson moved to grant a two and one-half month variance with skirting around the trailer and landscaping to include the mulch and shrubbery and eight 10 foot evergreens, and understanding that there would be no further extensions to this variance.

Mr. Okum asked that the screening be to screen the view of the building from Tri-County Parkway and that it must be done within two weeks. Mr. Wilson so modified his motion, and Mr. Schecker seconded the motion.

Voting aye were Mr. Wilson, Mr. Schecker, Mr. Okum, Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Squires. Mrs. McNear and Mrs. Ewing voted no, and the variance was granted with five affirmative votes.

C. Maple Knoll Village, 11100 Springfield Pike requests variance to allow the construction of a sunroom addition 29 feet from the rear yard at 609 Maple Trace. Said variance is requested from Section 153.645(F) and the 35í variance granted March 16, 1993.

Lena Mares of Maple Knoll Village stated the drawings have been submitted to you showing the adjustments to the sunroom as previously submitted. The pitch of the roof now matches the existing pitch of the building. On Page 4, there is a note that says aluminum siding; that is incorrect. The finish will be a painted redwood which also will match the existing building.

Mr. Okum said I noticed one of the buildings is already constructed and it blends with your building very well. I must compliment you on that. In the packet we have here there is a 7 of 11 which is the original submission. You are not using that? Mr. Mares responded no, the current one that has been revised is a packet, 11 of 11. Mr. Okum said then Page 7 of 11 should be removed. Also Page 9 of 11 should be removed. Also on Page 5 of 11, 1B5 which refers to vinyl should be deleted and noted that it will be painted redwood to match the existing. Addressing the applicant, he said this is much improved and I will be voting in favor of the request.

Mr. Wilson commented I am uncomfortable with this. My concern is if we allow this we have two designs Ė a room addition and a sunroom. My feeling is other residents will want the same thing and you will be back asking for approval. We would be setting a precedent that we have no control over and I cannot support it.

Mrs. McNear moved to grant this including the appropriate changes from the original request. Mr. Okum added deletion of the two pages (7 and 9) and change vinyl to redwood on Page 5 of 11, and seconded the motion.




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Voting aye were Mrs. McNear, Mr. Okum, Mr. Whitaker, Mr.Schecker and Mrs. Ewing. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Squires voted no, and the variance was granted with five affirmative votes.

D. Duke Realty requests variance to allow parking and side yard loading area at their proposed 3-story Office Building at Executive Plaza III, 135 Merchant Street. Said variance is requested from Section 153.091(A) "..minimum parking spaces requirements in commercial districts.." and Section 153.131(B) "..loading space..shall not be located in a..side yard.."

Audie Tarpley said I am the Preconstruction Manager for Duke Realty Investments and I am here for two variances. One is for parking. We show 421 spaces and we are required to have 430. I also need a variance on the side unloading area for the building. We put it on the end of the building rather than the back of the building where there was some exposure to the residential area behind us. It also allows us to park more by putting it on the end of the building.

Mr. Okum said the difference in the parking of 9 spaces is relatively insignificant, considering the site and location. I think our standards on parking are changing with our new code so I donít think that is an issue. The location of their loading area is also in the least conspicuous area of the building, and I donít have a major problem with where it is located.

Along the right of way where the lines are running against Maple Knoll village property, there are a number of trees that look like they have been trimmed so they can grow again. Are you going to clean that up and redo that?

Mr. Tarpley responded we will leave the trees in place and clean up the whole site. We will meet with Anne McBride to address this property line and shielding our property from the residential area. We do intend to add some 8 to 10 foot tall plantings along this area.

Mr. Tarpley added there was concern about noise and the unsightliness of it, so we are moving it here and will build a concrete enclosure around it to protect the neighbors and make it look a little nicer. On the street side, we have an architect working on the gate to close it off and weíll have landscaping on the side.

Mr. Okum moved to grant the variance to allow the loading area to be in the side yard and to allow 421 parking spaces. (430 required). Mr. Wilson seconded the motion.

Voting aye were Mr. Okum, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Schecker, Mr. Whitaker, Mrs. McNear, Mrs. Ewing and Mr. Squires. Variance was granted with seven affirmative votes.

E. Vineyard Community Church, 11355 Century Circle East requests variance to allow the installation of an off premise sign at East Kemper & Century Boulevard. Said variance is requested from Section 153.133(A) "Öany sign shall pertain only to a principal business conducted lawfully on the premises on which the sign is located."

Bill Mees of Cincinnati United Contractors said we are requesting a variance to locate a sign off premise, at East Kemper Road and Century Boulevard. The sign would have a masonry base of architectural concrete block to match the color of the building materials. It will be similar to the office building on the site. It would be internally illuminated and we do have a recorded easement for the location of the sign.



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Mr. Mees continued this is a church so they are not trying to advertise offsite, but it is a very important key to the church project for the church to reply direct traffic toward their facility. There is one other sign at the intersection but it is directional.

Mrs. McNear commented I know the location. Where would it be in relation to the sign already on the property for the office building? Mr. Mees answered it would be down the hill from that, lower. Mrs. McNear asked how far it would be from the street. Mr. Mees answered the easement reads as close as governmental authorities allow so it would have to be back from the right of way. Mr. McErlane added it would be 10 feet but I would want to check with the city engineer as to how the right of way is impacted on Kemper Road relative to changes that will occur in the near future. Mrs. McNear said and it will be 13í8" wide and 6í-6" tall.

Mr. Mees stated this is a fairly large piece of land, 48 acres, and it is a significant facility off the main drag. Since everyone perceives this as an industrial area, the church wants a sign. Mrs. McNear said the church is in the business of God and they are trying to drum up business.

Mr. Schecker wondered about the compatibility of this proposed sign with the office building sign that is there. I assume your sign would be far enough down the hill that it wold afford visibility for both eastbound and westbound Kemper traffic. Right now westbound you canít see the office sign.

Mr. Wilson commented it looks like three proposed sign locations, one in Sharonville. We canít deal with that but it is a concern. What is the total square footage of those three signs? Mr. Mees answered 84 square feet on each sign. Mr. Wilson commented we are only concerned with two.

Mr. Wilson said I think we are concerned because we are dealing with the total square footage for one project. Your point was that because of this 48 acres and because of the fact that is a church and others are businesses, there is a need to have a sign here to let people know that there is a church in an industrial area. I donít agree with that analogy. I feel uncomfortable about a sign that size that far away. This is a business as Mrs. McNear said. Other tenants may want to put a similar sign offsite and I have a problem with setting precedents.

Mr. Mees asked if the size of the sign were the issue and Mr. Wilson answered it is a combination of size and location relative to the actual site. I donít think you need a sign to find a church of that size or any size. People found the church on Crescentville and Chesterdale and it grew. I think thatís overkill, and I canít support it. Mr. Mees mentioned the size of the sign, and Mr. Wilson said if you had a smaller sign I probably still wouldnít support it, but you might have others on this board to agree to a smaller sign.

Mr. McErlane reported the amount of square footage permitted for signs on this property is 125 square feet maximum. It is based on the General Industrial District instead of Public Facilities. Mr. McErlane said each sign is 53.6 square feet. Mr. Squires said we are only talking about two signs; one is in Sharonville. Mr. Wilson responded you have one development; just because one sign is in Sharonville doesnít mean we canít include it.

Mr. Mees commented I am happy to revise the size to come within the allowable square footage.





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Mr. Whitaker said that hillside has a very steep slope to it, probably 30-35 degrees. With your split face concrete base which is now 6í-6", without drastically cutting into the hillside for that sign to be there, the very front of the sign probably will be 11 or 12 feet out of the ground, just due to the nature of the slope. What we received shows a flat area, and it is a very steep grade. The back area has to be raised up as well as the front so you are looking at more of a billboard than a sign.

Mrs. McNear said we have worked with the church for many years and have granted several variances. They always have been good neighbors and we are trying to work this out, but this is a huge sign especially for one that is off premises.

Mr. Mees said the church would like to have a sign out there. Could we come to an agreement as to the parameters and design of that sign? In their minds, this has been a very important issue since November of 1995 when they first came to Planning and talked about it conceptually. There was quite a bit of discussion two years ago about this sign at that location. Even at that time before they purchased the property they wanted to come before BZA to see if that sign could be included. Now they have made that commitment and they would like to have some sort of a sign there. Is it something that we could build into that hillside or turn on an angle so that it doesnít address both east and west? We are willing to reduce the size of the sign but I would have a lot of explaining to do if I went back and said they couldnít have a sign there at all.

Mr. Squires said there are points well taken by both you and Mrs. McNear. I have other members who want input; letís hold the size of the sign in abeyance at least for the time being.

Mr. Schecker commented not too many years from now very likely you will have a through road running past the building, and I personally donít like the idea of a sign settling out on Kemper Road to advertise this church. That church was on Chesterdale and Crescentville and somehow people found it and it grew. The physical location is not that difficult to describe. With another road very likely fronting that building within a short time, I wouldnít like to see a sign situated on a prominent site on Kemper Road. Other businesses might need that space, use that space and be entitled to that space.

Mr. Okum said Planning Commission understood that the request would be coming forward for this. There is precedence for signage on Kemper Road Ė Dave & Busterís and Champion Window are signed and appropriately so because their land runs up the boulevard to it. This is a pretty major investment in the community and the sign is an advertisement for the Vineyard.

This will need some more work before I would be ready to vote on it. Mr. Whitakerís comments regarding the slope and how the sign would nestle into that hillside are critical to how it appears and may affect how the sign actually looks. I agree with the comments that it is a very large sign for an off premises sign. I would like to see it sized down. I believe if we were to take a vote on it this evening it would not be a favorable one. There are some answers that need to be resolved. Whether the BZA wants us to move back to Planning Commission for some review might be prudent considering the slope. I would suggest to you that based on the information we have heard this evening and board members comments, it might be best that this be massaged and worked out and brought forward with landscaping plans associated with it to tie it in so it is not a monument sticking out there on Kemper Road.



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Mr. Okum continued that the other thing I need to discuss is if Tri-County Parkway were extended someday, this sign would be a sign settling on an island of its own, isolated form the development. I would like to see some commitments from the Vineyard that if that roadway were to go through, this sign would be removed at the expense of the applicant. I think that would be appropriate considering that a major thoroughfare would go across the front of their site.

Mr. Squires asked if any part of the sign is illuminated. Mr. Mees answered it is internally illuminated; it is painted out aluminum; the letters are 1 inch thick acrylic and have a light glow. Mr. Squires continued toward the north on I-75 there is a large church that flashes at you; you are not attempting to do anything like that? Mr. Mees said no

Mr. Schecker said in spite of your proposal I would be inclined to say no to the sign but I would suggest that consider the design of the sign going into that office building and make it compatible with it.

Mr. Mees said the church has made a pretty big commitment with the feeling that this would not be a stumbling block. They have made a large investment in this piece of property and are going forward. This particular design has been around since November of 1995. I realize this is the first time before the Board of Zoning Appeals and maybe this is the first time many of you have seen it. I know they are committed and signage at that point of the road is a major desire on their part.

Secondly, I donít know the procedural ramifications. If we could come to some agreement tonight on what the parameters of the design of the sign need to be, I would be willing to abide by those. If I need to withdraw and come back before Planning or the next BZA meeting, I am happy to do that also. If I leave here that way, I would like some fairly positive directions as to what acceptable parameters will be.

Mr. Squires said if you intended to withdraw, you would be better off than taking a vote at this time. If it were to be denied, you could not resubmit for six months.

Mr. Mees responded I was thinking if we talked it out now what those parameters would be and I could agree to those and get a positive vote, I could live by those parameters and redesign the sign accordingly. Or I could withdraw the motion with some strong guidelines from you tonight and come back before whatever the proper authority is and present the redesigned sign.

Mr. Okum said it would be inappropriate for the Board to be giving you guidance on planning and how this should work. Thatís like saying if you make all these changes, I will vote yes. Mr. Mees wondered why that would be inappropriate. Mr. Okum responded the problem is we donít know how that sign will place on that site. We knew how the other development on the hillís sign was going to work because they were on an existing platform on a flat plain. Until I see how it is going to nestle into that hillside, I would not be prepared to make a decision or recommendation. That may impact how your sign will look and be shaped. I am very concerned about how that sets. Mr. Mees responded that is the kind of feedback I am looking for. You want something a certain size and that would nestle into the hillside. Mr. Okum said I can express my views. Because the sign is internally illuminated the metal panel finish doesnít necessarily need to be as large as it is. The words Vineyard Community Church and grape insignia can be located on a smaller field of metal so the sign can be reduced down in size without impacting the size of them. In my opinion you can reduce your sign down significantly without affecting your letter size.


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Mr. Okum added with this proposal, that arrow literally will be pointing into the hillside, and that may not quite be the image the church wishes either. I think that sign could literally be 10 foot off the ground in order and I have a concern about that, how its landscaped around the sign; I know you havenít submitted a formal landscaping plan for this, but I think you should. Those items in itself probably should bring it back to Planning Commission for discussion and Planning recommend to Board of Zoning appeals.

The one critical issue is would this board, no matter what size the sign is, approve a sign on that site. That certainly is a concern. From this board member, if tastefully done and reduced in size and properly place into the hillside, I think a sign there is not out of the ordinary and I could accept that for this use.

Mr. Wilson said unfortunately we cannot tell you how to redesign the size of the sign to make it more acceptable. I feel it should go back to Planning. I donít like the idea of an off site sign that far away. We would be setting a precedent that other tenants in these other buildings would want a similar sign and suddenly we would have a humongous amount of signage on that corner. We canít give you specifics on the size of the sign that might work for this board. I would suggest that you listen to our comments, do your redesign and take it to Planning.

Mr. Mees stated I understand that, and I am not asking you to design the sign for me. I am trying to find out what the major issues are so that I can design the proper sign. I am not asking you to commit to specifics; I am asking for theoretical ideas of what you need, some guidance like that so I can come back with a reasonable proposal the next time I am here.

Mr. Wilson said personally I donít want any kind of sign there. If however a sign is tastefully done with the proper landscaping and at a site where people can see it and it is not gross, maybe that coupled with other comments generated by my constituents might sway me. Today I would say no. There is no guarantee for any size sign that I would say yes. But I am one vote.

Addressing the board members, Mr. Squires asked if there were any further guidelines for Mr. Mees. No one spoke, and Mr. Squires asked the applicant if he wished to withdraw. Mr. Mees answered I will be happy to withdraw, but I would like not to withdraw believing I am going to be denied on the concept of a sign at that site. The church paid for an easement to that when they purchased the land, so I need to go back and tell them that they paid a little too much if they are not going to get the enjoyment of that easement. I would rather not go to Planning Commission and come back if under no circumstances it will be approved, but if there is a chance, I would like to try.

Mr. Squires said I would state emphatically that we cannot say it will or will not be approved. At this point of time, my opinion is there should be some consultation with Planning on this. I have faith in the Planning Commission, I have faith in this Board and I have faith in your client and I think something can be worked out.

Mr. Mees said under those circumstances I am happy to withdraw our request for a variance. Mr. Squires responded we will be in touch with you through the Planning Commission and Iím sure something will be worked out on this. Mr. Mees said I hope so.




20 JANUARY 1998



Mrs. McNear asked if she should take this back to Council and tell them we are referring it back to Planning? Mr. Squires said I would appreciate that, yes; we donít want this to die. It will go to Council for discussion and subsequently be presented to Planning and you will be hearing from us.

Mrs. McNear commented we talk about signs and the sizes and Iím not good at visualizing the sizes. I wonder if we could get some kind of a chart and put it on the caucus room window to give us a perspective of what 13 feet is. How big is 11 feet off the ground. That would help me visualize it; I want to hear what you think. It wouldnít have to be a board, just mark it off so we could have an idea Ė is it three squares or four squares? Mr. Okum said I agree. Mrs. McNear continued even if it is tape. The other members agreed.

Mr. Squires said that sign is way off site; Mr. Wilsonís comment is so well taken. Addressing Mr. McErlane, he asked if as a municipality, the board can we okay a church sign? Mr. McErlane answered if you go by the Constitution you probably are on worst legal ground by denying it than you are okaying it. Mr. Okum added they still fall under the same rules as anyone else.

Addressing Mr. McErlane, Mrs. McNear said over the last year weíve talked about a sign in the yard of the property coming up for a variance. Have you heard anything more? Mr. McErlane reported we did it for the last residential request we had. They had one in their front yard. If you want to expand it to commercial thatís fine. Mrs. McNear commented with commercial itís not really an issue. Mr. Okum added if it were a commercial site next to a residential site, that would need a sign. Mr. McErlane said it is a policy matter; we can say anything adjacent to a residential district would have a sign placed on the property.

Mrs. McNear asked if we will have more slides. They are so helpful. L Mr. McErlane answered it is more dependent on how many applications we have. Mr. Okum wondered if the overhead projector could be used, and Mr. McErlane responded it could but visibility wise it is bad. The other alternative is Derrick had talked about buying a digital camera and tying the computer in. With digital cameras you are using a disk so you can take as many pictures as you want. Mr. Okum added the quality is phenomenal.

Mrs. Ewing said my concern is that in past we had many people come before the board with this VCR and big mobile homes that we had to make decisions based on individual needs and concerns. This evening I had a concern about what is going on at Maple Knoll. The people came back in with changes and adjustments that the Board had suggested. As I heard the comments, more may come forward. I guess we would have to take each one individually.

Mr. Wilson said I was on Planning for six straight years and when I left I was the senior person. I have seen a lot of things happen. Every time someone comes before Planning requesting something different, they say you allowed so and so to do something and we want equal. My feeling about Maple Knoll is that it is a beautiful place. I went by there trying to be able to approve this tonight. I have to look at it as they will be back and they will say that we allowed this, so why not that? I have seen lit happen too many times. I do feel there are times we have to make exceptions. So even though I voted no, I am happy for that resident, but I still do not want it and feel uncomfortable about it.

Mr. Wilson continued on Vineyard, I did not want to see us as a Board put in the position of promising that we would approve a specific size or placement.


20 JANUARY 1998



Mr. Schecker commented there probably will be more units in from Maple Knoll and we should document why we approved this and why we might not approve another one. In this case one reason for the approval is because their properties are abutting the GE property.

Mr. Okum added the reason the Maple Knoll village sunrooms were brought before us was the need for a setback variance from the rear lot line. Otherwise it would not have been here. By our holding fast to our decision the original plan and forming a position with them, we establish a precedent that at least if anything goes in there it meets the Zoning Code, and will have symmetry with the entire development.

I was on Planning when the Vineyard off premise sign was presented; there were discussions regarding this. We have to make the decision, and Planning probably did not do as good of a job on the review of that sign before it came before you. I do not personally have a major problem with it, but we have to hear other comments and we have to be concerned about other neighbors. Dave & Busterís sign helps that development and it may be that the sign should help Vineyard.

Mr. McErlane reported that the first time they were in was October 1995 and then November and December 1996 with the same sign. It was discussed, at least in the 1995 meeting. The reason Planning did not recommend them coming to this board in 1995 was because it was a concept approval. I am surprised they did not come before this board after the 1996 preliminary plan approval.

Mr. Squires asked about the Regional Planning Workshop held in December. Mr. Schecker reported they suggested that the board have a reason for yes or no. Whatever you are doing you should document it for future reference. The idea of notification was brought up, to let everybody know that a variance was being requested on a certain piece of property. Their recommendation was made that the people who come in sign in with their names and addresses. Addressing Mr. Squires, Mrs. McNear said when you read the statement at the beginning of the meting, you might want to add that everyone needs to sign in before speaking. Mr. Okum added and you might say that this is a public hearing


Mr. Squires stated that he will not be present at the February meeting, and Mr. Schecker indicated that he would not either.

Mrs. McNear moved for adjournment and Mr. Wilson seconded the motion. By voice vote, all present voted aye and the Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 9:27 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



____________________,1998 _______________________

James Squires, Chairman


_____________________,1998 _______________________

Barbara Ewing, Secretary